Laryngitis and Acid Reflux
Most people have “lost their voice” at some point in their lives without ever quite understanding what laryngitis is and why it happens. Laryngitis is caused by inflammation of your voice box, causing your voice to become hoarse and leaving you with little more than a whisper to communicate with.
Laryngitis results from overuse, infection or other forms of irritation. Most often, the condition only lasts a day or so. In some cases, laryngitis may become chronic, leaving you without your voice for weeks, months or years.
Acid Reflux and Laryngitis
Acid reflux, also known as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), is the most common cause of chronic laryngitis. When acid reflux occurs, digestive juices like acid from the stomach back-splash into the esophagus. These fluids will sometimes make their way out of the esophagus and into the throat, where they may then travel down the airway, where the voice box or larynx is located.
Repeated exposure to acid reflux can cause the tissue surrounding the larynx to grow irritated and raw, and this will often lead to voice loss. Even chronic laryngitis is most often temporary. Reducing acid reflux and allowing time for the larynx to heal will give the voice a chance of return.
Other common causes of chronic laryngitis include:
- Nerve damage
- Growths or bumps on the tissue
Typically, short-term laryngitis, when symptoms last for less than two weeks, is caused by a cold or flu, irritation from allergies or smoke, or an overuse of your voice (think cheering or shouting for extended periods of time).
Treatment for Laryngitis
Short-term laryngitis will most often heal on its own. If you have a cold or there is another illness causing your voice loss to occur, then treatment that concern will often allow your voice to return.
Sometimes, at-home treatments and lifestyle changes can help. These include:
- Resting your voice
- Using a humidifier or vaporizer to avoid dryness in the throat
- Drinking plenty of water and other fluids
- Staying away from smoke
Your doctor can examine your neck, nose, mouth, and throat and determine if the laryngitis will abate or if you need treatment based on how your voice sounds and how your vocal cords look. Often, treating acid reflux disease will provide relief from chronic laryngitis, giving you the freedom of having your own voice back.